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Turkish top court may hear case seeking to ban ruling party

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, English version] on Monday said it will decide whether to consider a bid to disband the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] within ten days, adding that the court is in the process of appointing a rapporteur to investigate the case. Chief prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya [official profile, in Turkish] petitioned the court last week to disband the AKP and bar Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul [BBC profiles] from political office. Yalcinkaya alleges that the AKP is the "focal point of anti-secular activities" and that the party "has tried to chip away at the principles of secularism."

On Saturday, Erdogan criticized the bid to disband the AKP [JURIST report], saying it was a "step against the national will." The AKP, which emerged in 2001 from a banned Islamist party, took 47 percent of the vote in the national parliamentary elections last July. The AKP controls the offices of the prime minister and president, and dominates the 550-seat parliament with 340 lawmakers. The Constitutional Court has banned several Islamist parties in the past, including the Welfare Party, which led Turkey's first pro-Islamist government for nearly a year, for violating constitutional obligations to respect Turkey's strict secular principles. AKP has long been at odds with Turkey's secular establishment; the party prompted backlash from the Republican People's Party [official website] most recently for the passage of a constitutional amendment easing a ban on Islamic headscarves [JURIST report] in universities. Reuters has more.

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